Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jason Joseph Cieniawa v. Secretary John Wetzel

July 20, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan

District Judge Mark R. Hornak

ECF Nos. 9, 11, 21 ) )


This pro se prisoner civil rights action is before the Court on the following motions: Plaintiff's Motion for Immediate Court Action for Injunctive Order/Temporary Restraining Order (ECF No. 9), Plaintiff's Motion for Permanent and Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order (ECF No. 11), and Plaintiff's Motion for Immediate Restraining Order (ECF No. 21). For the reasons state herein, Plaintiff's motions will be denied.


Plaintiff, Jason Joseph Cieniawa, a prisoner currently in the custody of the Luzerne County Prison, brings this action pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greensburg ("SCI-Greensburg"). In his complaint filed on March 1, 2012 (ECF No. 4), Plaintiff named the following individuals as Defendants: John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; James Barnacle, Director of the Office of Special Investigations and Intelligence; Joseph Mazurkiewicz, Superintendent of SCI- Greensburg; Billie Heide, Deputy Superintendent for Centralized Services of SCI-Greensburgh; Lieutenant Beers; Correctional Officer Jason Lacey; Correctional Officer Tommy Lacey; and Correctional Officer Quigley. Plaintiff subsequently filed a Motion to Amend (ECF No. 10), which was granted on March 12, 2012 (ECF No. 12). In that order, the Court directed Plaintiff to include all of his claims in his amended complaint and stated that the amended complaint should not refer back to the original complaint. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on March 21, 2012 (ECF No. 13), which only listed the following individuals as Defendants: Correctional Officer Nose; Correctional Officer Bridge; Correctional Officer Engelbrect; and Correctional Officer Richards. Plaintiff then filed a second amended complaint on April 3, 2012 (ECF No. 14), which lists as Defendants "Vincent" and an unknown person. Because it was not clear whether Plaintiff meant his most recent complaints to supersede his previous complaints or whether he was actually seeking to file supplements to his original complaint, which he had failed to caption as such and which is not permissible, he was ordered to file a third amended complaint setting forth all of his claims against all defendants in one documents and advised that no additional amendments or supplements would be accepted. The deadline for Plaintiff filing his third amended complaint is August 17, 2012.

Currently pending before the Court are three motions wherein Plaintiff requests preliminary injunctive relief. The first motion, Plaintiff's Motion for Permanent and Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order, was filed on March 1, 2012. (ECF No. 11.) In that motion, Plaintiff requests that the Court issue an order for Defendants to stop physically assaulting and emotionally abusing him; stop issuing fabricated misconduct reports; stop harassing, threatening, and segregating him; and remove him from the Western and Central region state correctional institutions or place him into federal or county custody. In his second motion, Motion for Immediate Court Action for Injunctive Order/Temporary Restraining Order filed on March 8, 2012, Plaintiff seeks a prior restraining order*fn1 and issuance of the injunctive relief mentioned in his first motion. (ECF No. 9.) Finally, in Plaintiff's third motion, Motion for Immediate Restraining Order filed on June 18, 2012, he requests that he not be returned to SCIGreensburg but instead be placed in federal or county custody or in a state correctional institution outside of the Western and Central regions. (ECF No. 21.) Defendants were directed to respond to Plaintiff's three motions and their response was filed with the Court on July 16, 2012. (ECF No. 35.)

II.Applicable Legal Standards

This Court has discretion to grant preliminary injunctive relief under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 65. The party seeking a preliminary injunction has the burden of demonstrating: (1) a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) irreparable harm if the injunction is denied; (3) that the issuance of an injunction will not result in greater harm to the non-moving party; and (4) that the public interest would best be served by granting the injunction. Council of Alternative Political Parties v. Hooks, 121 F.3d 876, 879 (3d Cir. 1997); Clean Ocean Action v. York, 57 F.3d 328, 331 (3d Cir. 1995); Opticians Ass'n of America v. Independent Opticians of America, 920 F.2d 187, 191-92 (3d Cir. 1990). The Court should issue the injunction only if the movant produces evidence sufficient to convince the trial judge that all four factors favor preliminary relief.

Opticians, 920 F.2d at 192 (citing ECRI v. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 809 F.2d 223, 226 (3d Cir. 1987)).

The purpose of the preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until the rights of the parties can be fairly and fully litigated and determined by strictly legal proofs and according to the principles of equity. Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 286 (4th Cir. 1980). Thus, the grant of injunctive relief is an "extraordinary remedy which should be granted only in limited circumstances." American Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. Winback and Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting Frank's GMC Truck Center, Inc. v. General Motor Corp., 847 F.2d 100, 102 (3d Cir. 1988)), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1103 (1995). The facts clearly must support a finding that immediate and irreparable injury will result to the movant if preliminary relief is denied. United States v. Stazola, 893 F.2d 34, 37 n.3 (3d Cir. 1990). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a "clear showing of irreparable injury." Hohe v. Casey, 868 F.2d 69, 72 (3d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 848 (1989); ECRI, 809 F.2d at 226 (it is not enough to merely show irreparable harm: the plaintiff has the burden of showing immediate irreparable injury, which is more than merely serious or substantial harm and which cannot be redressed with money damages). Absent a showing of immediate, irreparable injury, the court should deny preliminary injunctive relief. Acierno, 40 F.3d at 655.


With the above considerations in mind, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted in this case.

In his claims for preliminary injunctive relief, Plaintiff requests that this Court order his transfer into federal or county custody or to a state correctional institution that is not within the Western or Central region of Pennsylvania and also order Defendants to refrain from assaulting, emotionally abusing, harassing, threatening, and segregating him as well as issuing fabricated misconduct reports against him. Plaintiff's requests for preliminary injunctive relief are directed not merely at preserving the status quo; instead, they seek mandatory relief. In this situation, the burden on the moving party is particularly heavy. See Punnett v. Carter, 621 F.2d 578, 582 (3d Cir. 1980); Acierno v. New Castle County, 40 F.3d 645, 653 (3d Cir. 1994). Moreover, in the prison context, a request for injunctive relief "must always be viewed with great caution because 'judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable problems of prison administration.'" Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995) (quoting Rogers v. Scurr, 676 F.2d 1211, 1214 (8th Cir. 1982)). Where a plaintiff requests an injunction that would require the Court to interfere with the administration of a prison, "appropriate consideration must be given to principles of federalism in determining the availability and scope of equitable relief." Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 379 (1976). The federal courts are not overseers of the day-today management of prisons. Prison officials require broad discretionary authority as the "operation of a correctional institution is ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.